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Books and Documents

Islamic Culture

Turkey’s 'Rocker Imam' Inspires Turks
Mustafa Akyol

The Rocker Imam seems to be a figure who appeals to these not-so-conservative-but-religious Turks, and even fully to those who are nonreligious but appreciate spirituality. Tuzer's lyrics are filled with references of the love for and compassion of God, which has more appeal to these Turks than the fear from and wrath of God. Other modern Islamic figures who have gained popularity in the past decade — such as Sufi sage Cemalnur Sargut, philosopher-theologian Caner Taslaman and activist and thinker Ihsan Eliacik — also point to the same niche in Turkish society for a more liberal and cosmopolitan interpretation of Islam....

 

Ghalib, With Angels as His Muses
Farahnaz Zahidi

A Long Play (LP), or a 33 1⁄3 rpm vinyl record, that my father had bought from a trip to London was titled “Lata sings Ghalib”. Often, Abba would play it and make me sit and listen. It was like a punishment for me. I didn’t understand why Abba wanted to listen to something so sombre with such difficult words. He tried to explain the lyrics to me, and told me tales of how he had heard Lata Mangeshkar sing some of these Ghazals live at the Royal Albert Hall in London. But as a seven-year-old, I thought Abba’s going to London and buying that LP was a very unfortunate thing, after all, I could have used the same time playing Pacman on my Atari video game. Years later, studying Ghalib for my grade 10 Urdu exam, I thanked Abba. And thanked my eldest brother who, when I entered my teens, gifted me a Deewan-e-Ghalib…

 

Along with being a political worker and a journalist, Hasrat was not only also a poet but a humanist one at that too. In his verse, he has included the autobiographical elements so subtly and powerfully that the reader will find themselves absolutely absorbed; it becomes the reader's story......

 

Pakistani Novelist Intizar Husain: An Escape from Ideology
Intizar Husain

Intizar’s characters reply: “But haven’t you read the history of the Muslims?” In Panchatantra, Geedars (jackals) dunked themselves in false colours to appear as lions and presumed to produce a regimented society with stiff laws, but are discovered as Geedars and not the kings of the jungle they pretended to be. He applies the Geedar simile to the progressives who wanted to usher in revolutions and to the fundamentalists who wanted to induct literature into jihad….

 

“Like the Maulanas, Hindu pundits also used to declare fatwa. Urdu was the language of the times, so it was used in them. Every fatwa refers to a Hadith, so this one also begins with one written in Urdu by a Maulana. It is followed by a Pandit answering the Maulana by referring to a Shloka from the Ramayana in Devnagiri before pronouncing the judgement.” Indicating the date written on top of the fatwa, he says laughing, “This one is before Ghalib.”.....

 

Peer, who I have a fleeting memory of in rediff.com’s office, strokes the script with unflinching scenes of terror and tension that afflicted the population of Kashmir, caught in the crossfire between militants and army. I haven’t read his acclaimed Curfewed Night but I do recall this heart-breaking diary, which offers a disturbing glimpse of the horror he encountered personally. He even appears in a brief cameo doing what may seem amusing at first but is mostly a painful reminder of scars left on a tortured psyche.......

 

The liberal democratic system allowing individual freedom of speech, freedom of expression etc. is fine, but there must be limits to such freedom, particularly when there is an undeniable tendency to take advantage of it. If Sharia Law is attempted to be introduced surreptitiously under the guise of religious freedom, then such attempts should be considered to be thwarted; otherwise bigger problems may arise in future which may threaten the very fabric of the society.....

 

Ibn-e-Safi, the Man:  Stranger Than Fiction
Nadeem F. Paracha

I don’t anymore though, outgrowing the fantastic sounding cities and countries full of quirky spies, strange gadgets and racy plots that Safi offered in his novels, making him one of Pakistan’s most popular and best-selling Urdu novelists of all time.....

 

Shahid Sajjad:  A Study in Bronze
Irfan Husain

It is unsurprising that art has little place in a society as racked by violence and as warped by greed as Pakistan is today. Artists, too, are marginal figures unless they are good at self-promotion. And Shahid Sajjad was the very antithesis of a pushy person blowing his own trumpet: modest to the point of becoming a recluse in his last few years, he let his work speak for itself.....

 

Mehdi Hasan may not be with us, but his repertoire will continue to enthrall music lovers in all times to come……

 

12 Songs from Pakistan’s Mountains, Deserts, Shrines and Streets
Nadeem F. Paracha

Interestingly, though both, the 20th century secular Pakhtun nationalists, as well as the more religious and conservative expressions of Pakhtun identity, celebrated the Pakhtun culture’s militaristic tenor, Pakhtun folk music is remarkably romantic and poetic in nature, with the singers mostly voicing sagas of longing for their beloveds (who are in some foreign land), or for the mountains and rivers of the Pakhtun lands that the singer misses.....

 

He had come from Bombay where he had been leading a hard but fruitful life for twelve years. In the preface to his collection of short stories titled Yazeed, Manto mentioned that he considered Bombay his Doosra Watan – after Amritsar where he spent his boyhood and early youth – and called himself Chalta-Phirta Bambai. “Wherever I stay, I’ll make my own world.”....

 

Women, Urdu and Bollywood
Aijaz Zaka Syed

It’s not possible to disagree with the argument that if Indian Muslims are at the bottom of the heap in many ways, their women are at the bottom of this bottom. I could understand why my friend was appalled though. The expression employed was crude even if candid.  The Progressive Writers’ Movement, to which Kaifi belonged, tended to use such strong language to shock and awaken the sleepy social conscience…..

 

Pahela Baishakh: Beyond Kurtas and Saris
Afsan Chowdhury

Baishakhi is a festival of harvesting and commercial year launching. It has been in Bengal and in many parts of India since the time of Akbar the Mughal during whose rule the revenue system was reorganised. It’s the time of renewal, promises and inclusion of all in a socio-economic system. It’s therefore a festival without religious overtones….

 

It could be argued that these fine Islamic arts are more advantaged nowadays in Turkey, blossoming along with the recent spiritual revival in the country. Anyone visiting or living in Turkey nowadays is certain to encounter the different genres of these fine arts of Islam. This is clear from many examples of Turkish architecture in the form of mosques and former palaces, great poetry….

 

Sufi Music Makes Comeback in Iraq
Amal Sakr

When reading or hearing about Sufi music, one immediately imagines a “spiritual session” during which Mouwashshas (a form of classical Arabic poem) are sung, as Sufi music in Iraq is linked to the Kasnazani order — known for their performances involving “whirling dervishes” — in addition to the Qadiri order. During their evening performances and religious occasions, Sufis usually recite poems and beat drums to create rhythm. ....

 

Shah Abdul Latif:  The Voice of Love
Sadia Dehlvi

The young poet fell in love with the daughter of Mirza Mughal Beg, a proud scion of the Afghan rulers. Although Shah’s family happened to draw their lineage from the family of Prophet Muhammad, there was a difference in the social status of the families. The ruling family was aristocratic, while the Shahs came from a family of mystics. In 1713, robbers assassinated Mughal Beg and decamped with all his riches. Reduced to poverty, the Mirza family eventually agreed to give their daughter in marriage to Shah, who had by then gained fame as a poet…..

 

The 10 Best Pakistani Political/Social Parody Songs … Ever!
Nadeem F. Paracha

Aziz Mian was the wild man of Pakistani Quawwali. Long-haired, almost always sloshed on his favourite brand of whisky, and punctuating his Quawwalis with sudden spoken-word interludes that he would shout out as if he was having an argument with God and the conservative clergy. Though the Sabri Brothers too came from the same Sufi-music background as Aziz Mian, they were more subdued and harmonious in their approach towards their music.....

 

Dhaka: The Enduring City
Milia Ali

Beneath Dhaka's unattractive façade lies a compassionate soul. The city and its people have a great ability to accept and adapt. From a quaint town of the '70s it has transformed into a bustling city -- reinventing itself to accommodate the rapid changes. But, despite all its urbanisation Dhaka still retains touches of its rustic self… The other day I was shopping in Gulshan 2. A hawker sitting with his basket of Dhaka cheese offered me a big chunk. When I told him I had no cash left on me he said: “Aapa, please take it, you can pay me tomorrow....

 

Iran has already tried to block Western music and movies and social media. But they cannot block them successfully. These technological influences are even more powerful and more effective and corrosive than the invasion of Western fast food. No radar system and no Internet block and no diet can possibly protect Iran from the real secret weapons of the West. It just won’t work. Freedom cannot be blocked. Here’s to a year free of fear and filled with freedom.....

 

There Is No Single Islamic Culture
Mohamad Jebra

What most converts to Islam seem to miss is that Islam is a spiritual and religious system, it is not an alternative to one’s cultural and national identity. In fact, wherever you go in the world you will find a unique and harmonious merging of Islamic and local values. Sub-Saharan Africa has a unique Islamic culture, which greatly differs from Chinese Muslim culture, which, likewise, greatly varies from Balkan Islamic culture…..

The ‘Evil’ In Our Textbooks
Madiha Afzal

Our penchant for conspiracy theories also falls into place. We are taught that Muslims were victimised before Partition. The British conspired with the Hindus and the Congress to do so. One of the reasons given for “the fall of East Pakistan” is “international conspiracies”, with players as diverse as Russia, India and America conspiring against us. Little wonder, then, that we have an unhealthy sense of national paranoia….

 

The ‘Swinging Seventies’ In Pakistan: An Urban History
Nadeem F. Paracha

The shrine culture, pertaining to the devotional, recreational, and economic activity around the shrines of ancient Muslim saints, had been around in the subcontinent for almost a thousand years. The saints’ Islam was more accommodating than dogmatic, and a largely permissive culture of ecstatic devotional music, innovative rituals and indigenous intoxicants started to take shape around the shrines, mostly involving poor farmers, the dispossessed, (and later,) the urban lumpen proletariat....

 

My Name Is Pakistan and I’m Not an Arab
Nadeem F. Paracha

The point is, instead of assimilating the finer points of the diverse religious and ethnic cultures that our history is made of and synthesise them to form a more convincing and grounded nationalism and cultural identity, we have decided to reject our diverse and pluralistic past and instead adopt cultural dimensions of a people who, ironically, still consider non-Arabs like Pakistanis as second-class Muslims....

 
Religion and Rituals
Dilnawaz Qamar

Practices of rites and rituals without changing lives confine the religion to the precincts of a mosque, a church, a temple or holy place. Religion is practical that changes one inside out, not only a set of actions performed daily, weekly, monthly or yearly. It is our choice to become either an ignorant dummy or one seeking the will of God....

 
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NEW COMMENTS

  • Well written article. the author seems to have a clear idea of gender justice and women's co-....
    ( By muhammd yunus )
  • Dear Naseer Sahab, You have said, NAI could not take its ideas of reform to even University level. I will put it this ....
    ( By muhammd yunus )
  • The so-called Ulema do not have any means of considered independent understanding of ...
    ( By Asif Merchant )
  • this lady has just made out a perfect case for the legitimacy of islamophobia as well as the ...
    ( By hats off! )
  • if that is mr ghulam mohiyuddin's argument, he should not complain of islamophobia.....
    ( By hats off! )
  • She dislikes Muslim hip hop groups adopting the style and even the lyrics of what she ...
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • Aayina: You are a fake person, so your name, Aayina, is a misfit that talks of reality and....
    ( By Abdullah )
  • THE AUTHOR COULD NOT BE JOKING. Given the following academic credentials of the author of this article, one can hardly ....
    ( By muhammd yunus )
  • Mohd. Yunus/ Mohammed Arif First premises the Qur’an expounded for all humanity is the use of reason. From both of your ....
    ( By muhammd yunus )
  • Sultan Shahin ,founder editor; New Islam is a (Abusive word deleted..... Sub-editor) one he knows nothing about ...
    ( By Mohd Yunus )
  • Worshipping graves is shirk. And setting partners is the biggest crime in the sight of Allah....
    ( By Mohammad Arif )
  • does mr ghulam mohiyuddin really miss the underlying contempt this lady has for the ....
    ( By hats off! )
  • Mr Nayim Ahmd sahab, Your post tries to justify the blast at All kalandar mosque,and court ...
    ( By U.p. Ojha )
  • @U.P. OJha do you believe Terrorist listen to Mullas. do not put failure of anyone on ....
    ( By Naeem Ahmed )
  • I can mention the name of Ibn Taimiya a muslim mulla who propagated Taqfirism. It is ...
    ( By Sudhir Bharti )
  • wow new one Islamic non-Violence, I like this joke. The author miss to write down the source of inspiration of this Islamic Non-Voilence.....
    ( By Aayina )
  • To Abdulla Your source if relation with fellow humans is based on text which you completely obey if ...
    ( By Aayina )
  • Both Naseersaab and Hats Off make good points.
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • Hats Off's hostility to Muslims who have settled in the West continues unabated! He...
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • Good book review! It would be great if we can replace the ideology of jehad with the ideology of nonviolence.
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • "The absence of a clear cut hierarchy and an apex body of decision makers has not only....
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • Very brave article. Comments on the thread are on expected lines, not surprising
    ( By Soumyakanti Chakraborty )
  • @Soumyakanti Chakraborty aur islam ye bhi kehte hai ki kisi insaan ka qatl karne wale ki saja qatl hai aur rapist ki saja bhi ...
    ( By Imran Khan )
  • @Imran Khan, tu idhar udhar ki baat na kar, ye bata ki khafila kyun luta ? :) Salafis want...
    ( By Soumyakanti Chakraborty )
  • @Ghulam Mohiyuddin yes they should become like western liberals who killed and....
    ( By Imran Khan )
  • every religion is basically a commercial enterprise. this lady is peddling her identity politics as if a couple of hipsters ....
    ( By hats off! )
  • mr naseer ahmed should try making a youtube channel about his interpretation of the Holy Qur'an. in my opinion, the ....
    ( By hats off! )
  • thank you mr ghulam mohiyuddin - for seconding my opinion.'
    ( By hats off! )
  • I join Hats Off in saluting Usmansaab!...
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • Rashidsaab, Yes, the biggest curse is the Shia/Sunni divide because it weakens us and diverts ....
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • Beyond articles in NAI, we have not been able to take our ideas for reformation even to the Universities where the young educated Muslims are ...
    ( By Naseer Ahmed )
  • Wel chronicled article.'
    ( By Comal Mahadevan Amrtheswaran )
  • We hate terrorist, but he wants to proof Muslim are terrorist
    ( By Nakib Saikia )
  • Why Islam has become totally xenophobic to the extent of madness.Yesterday shootout in paki court campus is an example.....
    ( By U.p. Ojha )
  • Our paid historians have written that Aurangazeb killed Dara Shikoh, his step brother, in ....
    ( By C M Amrtheswaran )
  • @ G.M, “…who feel lukewarm about  terrorism and are interested more in cursing Shias or Sunnis” You are right ...
    ( By Rashid Samnakay )
  • mr. muhammad usman, i salute you! may your kind multiply!'
    ( By hats off! )
  • Islam is like a Pandora box. Any set of views can be drawn from its labyrinthine archives. Its customs and practices over historical span are ...
    ( By muhammd yunus )
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    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
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    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )